Evolutionary epistemology and the origin and evolution of language: Taking symbiogenesis seriously

  • Nathalie Gontier
Part of the Theory and Decision Library A: book series (TDLA, volume 39)


Symbiogenesis is a form of horizontal evolution that occurred 2 billion years ago, with the evolution of eukaryotic cells. It will be argued that, just as we can develop universal selection theories based upon a general account of natural selection, we can also develop a universal symbiogenetic principle that can serve as a general framework to study the origin and evolution of language. (1) Horizontal evolution will be compared with and distinguished from vertical evolution. (2) Different examples of intra- and interspecific horizontal evolution will be given to show that horizontal evolution is quantitatively and qualitatively the most commonly occurring form of evolution throughout the history of life. (3) Finally, three examples are given of how a universal symbiogenesis principle can be implemented in the study of language origins and evolution, more specifically within: (a) the study of language variation, (b) language genes and (c) conceptual blending.


Natural Selection Giant Panda Normative Framework Language Variation Language Disorder 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathalie Gontier
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Assistant of the Research Foundation—Flanders (F.W.O.-Vlaanderen), Centre for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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